A coalition of education advocates who have opposed Mayor Bloomberg’s education policies have released their suggestions for the next mayor.
The report, from the A+NYC coalition, offers a preview of priorities that might reign should one of Bloomberg’s education critics take his place at City Hall: more arts and physical education, investing in community schools, shifting discipline authority from the New York Police Department officers in schools to the principals, and an overhaul of the city’s accountability system for schools to place less emphasis on test scores.
But while leading Democratic mayoral candidates, including Christine Quinn, John Liu, Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson, helped launch the week-long bus tour in March that led to the report, this morning, the recommendations received a more tepid response.
When this post went to press, Quinn and de Blasio had yet to release statements. Even Thompson, the candidate who has received the endorsement of Bloomberg’s largest education critic, the teachers union, didn’t send a statement until this afternoon. (The statement did, however, vow to “implement these ideas.”)
The relatively slow responses might stem from the fact that, with the United Federation of Teachers’ endorsement already made, to Thompson, the candidates are focusing less attention on education.
The report categorizes its recommendations by “the whole child,” “the whole school” and “the whole city.” One notable section addresses a redesign of the accountability system. The coalition suggests reducing the role of standardized tests in high-stakes decision, redesigning school progress reports to de-emphasize test scores, creating an early intervention system for struggling schools, and helping schools improve by supporting School Leadership Teams.
There is no mention of charter schools in the report, despite some of the groups that make up the coalition often questioning candidates about whether they would expand the charter sector or continue co-locations with district schools.
Oona Chatterjee, who works with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and helped A+NYC with the report, said they made sure to include charter school parents and students and teachers in the process, but didn’t include them in the report because most people don’t identify the expansion of charters as a key element of reform.
“It’s such a small portion of the city’s population,” she said. “We were trying to drive home what would help the New York City school system as a whole to meet the needs of students.”
She said this roadmap has helped education advocacy coordinate their priorities, which will help them work together more effectively. “Whoever is the next mayor should know that and be ready for it,” she said.
Here are responses from candidates who have commented on the report:
Democrat Bill Thompson:
I commend A + NYC’s team for their focus on working to bring communities back into our education system. I support many of the ideas proposed in today’s report including increasing a focus on critical thinking skills and not teaching to the test, increasing arts in our classrooms, and preparing students with the civic tools to give back to their communities. As Mayor, I will implement these ideas and create great schools in every neighborhood because I know that if we put our minds to it, New York City is going to have the best schools in the world.
Republican George McDonald:
One of my main goals as mayor is to change the tone of the dialogue between City Hall, the teachers and education advocates. I applaud A+NYC for putting together such a comprehensive and thoughtful set of recommendations and look forward to working with them as Mayor to improve outcomes for all our students.
Democrat Sal Albanese:
When I was a high school teacher, I would’ve been thrilled to see groups like A+ NYC promoting these ideas. Point-by-point, it reflects what I have been saying since I entered the race. We need to work with kids from the day they’re born, repair the relationships that Mayor Bloomberg has broken, and invest in real training for our teachers and principals.
Democrat John Liu:
As our City’s Chief Financial Officer, I’ve insisted education is the best long-term economic investment for New York. As the father of a seventh grader in public school, though, I have an especially vested interest in our school system. That’s why. just as for the millions of fellow parents throughout the City, when it comes to the quality of my son’s education: it’s personal, and there is no limit for better. The A+ NYC Education Roadmap and my own education agenda as Comptroller both share an urgency for greater accountability from DOE to the community, the need for additional counselors and alternative disciplinary measures, among other things. In short, we both share an approach that looks at the the whole child and the whole school system to help children achieve.
Republican John Catsimatidis:
Taken as a whole, there are a lot of great ideas in this plan that I support and will fight for as Mayor. There are a few ideas that I take exception with, but as Mayor Koch said, if you agree with 70%, that’s not bad. Education is one of my top priorities. We need to give all our kids the tools they need to succeed. We need to give them hope and something to believe in. I came from 135th street in Harlem and if I can do it, they can do it too. I look forward to working with A+ NYC as we prepare our kids for the future.
Democrat Bill de Blasio (added after first publication):
“There’s a lot in here that will help us bring parents back into our schools and put the focus back where it belongs: on our neighborhood schools. Expanding the community schools model, increasing parental engagement and supporting students with disabilities will be some of my top priorities, and I value the road map A+ NYC has put out there to achieve them.”
The full report is embedded below.